Monday, 14 November 2011

Walking in downtown Portland

I worked in Portland for too few years back in the seventies.  My office was in a theatre building right at Broadway and Yamhill.  You just couldn’t be more “downtown.”  Portland had the distinction of always having a vibrant central core, thanks to right thinking city fathers that in my opinion gave politics a good name.

Returning to Portland after too long an absence was a very pleasant experience.  Nearly everything discussed for the future of Portland in the seventies has in fact, come to fruition.  There is a blend of new and old in everything, architecture, population, wealth and not so wealthy, and personal space that really works in this city. 

Elena and I didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, but we took a great walk, ate from one of the many food booths located downtown and vowed that we have to return.  Here are a few random photographs of our time in Portland.

Probably at a purely emotional level, I have always admired the brass letters & numbers used in great buildings.  This brass 320 just jumped out crying “take my picture!”

A vibrant downtown has to be all things to all kinds of people.  This door caught my eye because of the discriminatory phrasing but also, the little parking lot was full of believe it or not, “mini-vans.”  Wish I had the time to see who is coming out of this place.

The joy of studying the buildings in a city is taking the time to let individual elements soak in to your vision.  I walked by several of these light fixtures until it finally sunk in just how interesting the light plays out from the fixture.

 This classic Portland building, built in 1890 has such a wonderful design and history.  Look it up in Google to get the history and overview pictures.  I found this over a side entrance and it seemed to me, to wear its history in all of the holes left by previous awning and sign installations.  This is the building that housed the agency that coined the Nike shoes phrase, “Just Do It”

This is a great old building left from the tear down of the block.  My curiosity was spiked by the window placement in a formerly covered wall.  Very whimsical.

 Downtown Portland near the waterfront, has a vacant lot that is full of little food booths.  Each booth specializes in a food type.  There were some duplicates but all in all, it is like a taste of Portland.  Office workers descend on this location for great food in the open air.  This sign was animated using LED’s and caught my eye.

 I couldn’t pass up the obvious discrepancy in the politically correct nature of Portland. The fire hydrant in the showy part of downtown is so perfect and bright. Then I came across the less than showy hydrant in the Burnside district which still needs a lot of renewal.

Unique fountain at Pioneer square.

Strong shadows and patterns.

Interesting neon sign.

Row of chairs. The shadows saying:"Place your buts here".

Geometrics of a bicycle.


  1. Hello Russ and Elena. I really enjoyed reading this post. Portland is a place I have always wanted to visit. I grew up in Boston and thought of Portland as a West Coast friend. The biggest difference would be the placement of the ocean!
    The photos you've posted here all have wonderful design elements. (They are definitely not tourist photos.)You both have a very elegant sensibility of not only what to photograph but how to frame the space. Beautiful work. And I'm still smiling at the shadows cast from those chairs. Perfect.

  2. Thank you Sharon,
    Unfortunately our visit to Portland was very short, but we enjoyed every moment of it.